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Don't Do the "Holiday 7"
copyright 2003 by Greg Landry, M.S.

As the holidays approach, a frequent question from my clients and subscribers is "How can I avoid gaining weight during the holidays"? Their concern is legitimate. The average American adult gains seven pounds of fat between Thanksgiving and New Years Day.

However, with a little know-how and effort you don't have to be "average". In fact, I've seen many people actually lose a few pounds over the holidays without depriving themselves. One of my clients said it best, "Greg, I can't tell you how good it feels to have lost three pounds during the holidays instead of gaining ten pounds as I used to do. My friends are jealous. It's January 2nd and I'm feeling (and looking) lean and mean. And, best of all, I actually enjoyed the holidays more because I always felt energetic. In years past, inactivity and lots of food made me constantly sluggish and tired."

Here are a few tips that can bring you into the new year without any new pounds...

1. Do some type of exercise everyday, preferably every morning (see article on morning exercise by sending any email message to...) Morning@Landry.com Now this can be as simple as a 15 minute walk some days but it's VERY important that you do something everyday. Physiologically, this keeps your metabolism elevated, helps to control your appetite, and ENERGIZES you!

Mentally, daily exercise increases your mental acuity for hours after exercise, and it keeps you in a "healthy" frame of mind. Many people tell me that daily exercise helps them to make better food choices because it makes them feel like they are doing something healthy for themselves. Commit to doing at least 15 minutes everyday.

2. Don't deprive yourself of those holiday goodies that you enjoy. Tell yourself that you can eat whatever you'd like to as long as it's in moderation. For example, eat one Christmas brownie instead of five. Take small bites of that brownie, chew it well, savor every bite so you can really enjoy the taste rather than rushing to swallow it. The same for meals, don't deprive yourself of the foods you enjoy but eat them in moderation and savor every bite.

3. Have lots of "healthy" foods available at your home during the holidays. Make a big fruit salad to keep in the frig when you need a snack. Have some of your favorite veggies ready to eat for when you're hungry. Make a big salad and keep it ready to eat in the frig.

4. Don't allow yourself to get too hungry. The hungrier you are, the less control you have over your eating. Always eat some healthy, filling food before going to a party, dinner, or any situation where you will be exposed to lots of tempting food.

5. Strictly limit or avoid alcohol. Alcohol is really bad news - I call it the "triple whammy"! it depresses your metabolism, stimulates your appetite, and it's loaded with calories. Alcohol has as many calories per gram as fat!

6. Incorporate "intervals" into your aerobic exercise.

Intervals are brief periods (about one minute) of more intense exercise mixed into your regular aerobic exercise sessions. For example, if you're walking, you would do a one minute interval of faster walking about every five minutes throughout your exercise session.

Here's how it will look - you'll start with your normal three to five minute warm-up and then five minutes into your workout you do your first interval, one minute of faster walking (or perhaps jogging). At the end of that minute you should be "winded" and ready to slow down. You'll slow down to your normal exercising speed for the next four minutes and then your fifth minute is another one minute interval. This pattern continues throughout your exercise session.

You'll derive several benefits from intervals:

- Intervals can help you to get past a weight loss plateau.

- Intervals increase your aerobic fitness level by "pushing the envelope". While doing your interval you cross the anaerobic threshold into anaerobic metabolism, forcing your body to become conditioned to more intense exercise.

- Your increased level of fitness means that a given level of exercise will feel easier and that you will be able to exercise at a higher intensity which "burns" more calories.

- Your increased level of fitness also means that you will be less fatigued from daily activities and you'll have more "energy" throughout the day.

- Intervals increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR), causing you to burn more calories 24 hours-a-day.

- Intervals cause you to "burn" more calories during your exercise session and for several hours afterwards.

- Intervals will tone the involved muscles to a greater degree than your regular aerobic exercise would.

- Intervals can make your exercise less monotonous and help the time pass more quickly.

- Intervals will energize you!

So, get energized with some daily exercise and moderate food consumption and REALLY enjoy the holidays.. AND January 2. :)

Author and exercise physiologist, Greg Landry, offers weight loss success stories and unique weight loss and fitness programs at his site: http://www.FitnessForYou.org

copyright 2003 by Greg Landry, M.S.

 

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